Background: Prior to 2008
Friends of Westwater have been working diligently with the Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Trust for Public Lands (TPL) and the Utah congressional delegation on two land acquisitions at the Westwater Ranch, upstream of the Westwater Canyon Wilderness Study Area (WSA). For FY 2006 and 2007, Congress appropriated nearly $1.5 million dollars from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire a conservation easement on the Ranch, to purchase property to expand the BLM Westwater Ranger Station at the head of Westwater Canyon, and purchase riverfront property between the Colorado/Utah state line and the ranger station. Contact Us >
2008 Updates: Conservation Easement
While the new ranch owners initially expressed interest in a conservation easement, the purchase offer was rejected after a land appraisal was completed by the BLM. The ranch owners have stated that their goals are the same as those of the BLM and the recreation community: to preserve the scenic qualities of the river corridor and not to subdivide. Ultimately their intent is to place a conservation easement on the ranch which may be accomplished through work with land conservancy organizations. Contact Us >
2008: Westwater Ranger Station Expansion
The purchase of approximately 10 acres to construct another boat ramp, additional parking, and camping facilities is planned. However, BLM’s initial offer, based on comparable land sales, was rejected. Owners point to the value of gravel on the property which was not taken into account in the appraisal. In the works is a review by geologists and appraisers to determine the land’s highest and best use. Depending on this reassessment, the BLM will make a final offer. Contact Us >
2008: What happened to the money?
Since 2006, congressional appropriations through the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) are limited to the projects that received funding that year. The proposed acquisitions within the Colorado River Special Recreation Management Area (SRMA) are one of these approved projects. The BLM is moving forward on a number of these land acquisition projects, and as long as progress can be demonstrated, the money is not lost and additional funding may be requested in coming years to complete the projects. Contact Us >
2006: Westwater Ranch Conservation Easement
In 2005 the Westwater Ranch was sold to conservation–minded investors. Friends of Westwater continues to work with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Trust for Public Lands, and the new owners of the Westwater Ranch for a conservation easement on the ranch. Last year Congress appropriated $1.5 million dollars in the FY 2006 budget for the acquisition of the easement and to expand the Westwater Canyon put-in and campground. The first phase of the easement acquisition (600 acres) is planned to be at the southwest corner of the ranch, nearest to the entrance of Westwater Canyon. The BLM has requested additional funding in the Federal FY 2007 budget, although it is expected to be less than the $1.5M funded in 06. Nevertheless, Friends of Westwater will lobby Utah's congressional delegation and Congress for additional funding to complete a conservation easement on the entire property. FOW has received generous assistance from the Utah Guides and Outfitters, Colorado River Outfitters Association, Utah Rivers Council, Utah Open Lands, Tom Till Photography, and many others. Become a Friend of Westwater. Contact Us >
President's Budget Includes $ 1.2 M for Westwater Ranch
Recently proposed fiscal year 2006 Federal Budget includes a top-rated request from the Utah BLM for $1.2 million dollars for land and conservation easements at Westwater Ranch near the Westwater Canyon wilderness study area. Friends of Westwater's current efforts include written testimony to the House Subcommittee on Interior Affairs in support of the budget request. "Although not enough for an easement for the entire Westwater Ranch, this is a first step," says Greg Trainor, President of Friends of Westwater. "We would hope to work with the Utah Congressional delegation to increase the funds available during the budget review process." Friends of Westwater is asking for individuals to "Contact Us" who might be able to help in this effort. Contact Us >
About Westwater Canyon
The Colorado River has carved some of nature's greatest wonders in its long and sometimes tortuous path: the Grand Canyon, the vanished but once hauntingly beautiful Glen Canyon and the fearsome waters of Cataract Canyon in Canyonlands National Park. Just as remarkable is Westwater Canyon in southeastern Utah, some 40 miles west of Grand Junction, Colorado and 40 miles northeast of Moab, Utah. More >
Current Project - Westwater Ranch Protection
Friends of Westwater is working urgently with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Trust for Public Lands, and others to acquire the 1,400 acre Westwater Ranch at the mouth of the Westwater Wilderness Study Area on the Colorado River in Utah, to preserve it from development. The Utah BLM has selected Westwater Ranch as their highest priority for Land and Water Conservation Funds to acquire a 600-acre conservation easement along the river corridor. Friends of Westwater are working with the landowner to expand the acquisition so that the entire ranch can be purchased. Westwater Ranch is one of the largest, last remaining private parcels along the Colorado River between the Colorado Canyons National Conservation Area in Colorado and the Westwater Wilderness Study Area in Utah. Become a Friend of Westwater Canyon >
A Milestone…“Three Rivers Withdrawal”
This Public Land Order withdrew the corridors of the Colorado, Dolores, and the Green rivers from new mining claims. While historic claims were grandfathered, the staking, and development of new mining claims is prohibited, and the coverage extends “rim to rim.” Given the renewed interest in uranium exploration, the order signed in 2005 protects these river ways from potential disturbance. In addition, it should be noted that twenty-eight “placer and lode” mining claims, within the Westwater WSA, were relinquished in 1999 as a result of a settlement between the BLM and mine claimants. Contact us
Friends of Westwater, P.O. Box 2011, Grand Junction, CO 81502-2011
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Friends of Westwater is working to acquire the Westwater Ranch at the head of the Westwater Canyon Wilderness Study Area on the Colorado River in Utah to preserve it from future development. Westwater Canyon needs your voice. Please sign up as a "Friend of Westwater" and register your support for this important work. Click here.